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A Focused Effort on Early Literacy

“This is just what our schools needed, at exactly the right time,” said Briarcrest Principal Derek Dalasta when asked about this year’s focus on literacy in Shoreline elementary schools.

For the 2021-22 school year, K-5 students have been developing their skills by learning the components of structured literacy, which focuses on sounds, letters, and the building blocks of language. Elementary teachers have built shared knowledge around frameworks of reading and incorporating evidence-based practices, such as systematically teaching foundational skills in a direct way. Buoyed by the enthusiasm for this learning, schools have also found opportunities to incorporate literacy across school events and into other subjects.

The need for this districtwide focus on literacy became clear as schools examined best practices in literacy instruction, looked at student data, and prepared to return to in-person instruction.

“Our understanding of how students learn to read has evolved in the field of education,” said Maria Stevens, Director of Teaching and Learning. “We’re working toward a system where race and ethnicity aren’t predictors of success, and this is a huge piece of that work. Reading is the gateway to anything they want to do, inside and outside of school.”

Early assessment data shows positive growth in literacy skills across the district, but the work will continue to be a priority in Shoreline schools. Administrators and teachers are excited to deepen their knowledge and practice to continue developing skilled and confident readers for years to come.

"I am grateful to teach in a district committed to literacy!" says Highland Terrace Learning Assistance Program (LAP) Teacher Donna Hoffman. "This year we have been inspired by experts in the field and taught by knowledgeable district leaders. Although our learning is just beginning, we are seeing real results in our students. Almost daily I hear our young students say, 'I can do this! I can read hard words!'"